Dear Azami – Yo Cromat, I’m Really Happy For You, I’mma Let You Finish…

Sean McKeown made an unprecedented change to a Commander deck this week: he switched a reader’s commander! Read on to find out why Sean felt such a bold move was neccessary.

Dear Azami,

I’ve been playing this format now pretty heavily for about four years, and I have met a lot of really interesting and good people through it—I’m pretty thankful for that. My recent battle strategies have tended toward the asymmetric, and I’m hoping to really push the envelope in this deck.

Planeswalker’s Delight

Commander – Cromat

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Tezzeret the Seeker
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Ajani Vengeant
Venser, the Sojourner
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth Tirel
Garruk Wildspeaker
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana Vess
Karn Liberated
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Wrath of God
Austere Command
Three Visits
Nature’s Lore
Kodama’s Reach
Explosive Vegetation
Skyshroud Claim
Demonic Tutor
Cruel Tutor
Entreat the Angels

Enlightened Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Mystical Tutor
Arcane Denial
Mana Drain
Pact of Negation

Magus of the Moat
Primeval Titan
Consecrated Sphinx
Knight of the Reliquary
Aven Mindcensor

Rings of Brighthearth
Sensei’s Divining Top
Mana Crypt
Sol Ring
Coalition Relic

Mirari’s Wake
Mana Reflection
Pernicious Deed
Doubling Season

3x Forest
2x Plains
Misty Rainforest
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Verdant Catacombs
Marsh Flats
Windswept Heath
Polluted Delta
Wooded Foothills
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island
Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Overgrown Tomb
Sacred Foundry
Blood Crypt
Breeding Pool
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Command Tower
Maze of Ith
Krosan Verge

As you can tell, I have placed a lot of emphasis on consistent, early green ramp and color fixing. Midgame is control with planeswalkers and creature wipes, then end game win conditions involving planeswalker ultimates, counterspells, and mass permanent removal.

Basically, I am looking for more cards that will allow my planeswalkers to operate unmolested; Jokulhaups / Obliterate is great to pull off once a night but not really a crowd pleaser… I feel like planeswalkers are not fully exploited in Commander and would like this deck to really maximize their potential without resorting to harming peaceful lands. Thanks in advance.


I have never changed the commander on someone before, and this is Dear Azami article number fifty, a year and three months after I started writing the series. (Arguably, less than fifty, if you nitpick that the series started as “99 Problems,” but despite the name change, the column’s the same so I am just counting ’em both. However, in this particular deck you are considerably more attached to your concept and design than specifically your commander, and I have to ask the question: is Cromat just for his colors, and if so, who might be a better commander?

Five-color commanders are interesting animals. You have a much wider variety of them to choose from than you’d expect, but with three Sliver commanders, Karona, Cromat, Reaper King, Horde of Notions, Atogatog, et cetera, you actually have a fair variety. Looking at this deck, Cromat doesn’t really give it anything more than a bit of a resilient end game threat, and it’s less resilient even than Progenitus so there are questions that need to be raised.

Typically in Commander, we have what I tend to think of as ‘the first sizing-up.’ When the game begins and all four Commanders are shown, an initial bias is made and the first stance of what each player feels about the other three decks they are playing with comes into account. Is that Griselbrand? Is that Norin the Wary? Laugh, at least until he makes you stop laughing.

Cromat is the five-color version of that goofy commander that people don’t have to feel scared about. Horde of Notions promises Elemental creature recursion, which can be a pain; Progenitus promises to take you down without taking ‘no’ for an answer. Scion of the Ur-Dragon promises to be a Dragon-related combo-kill, probably including some element of power pumping and either Double Strike or infect to finish it, while any of the Sliver trio promises a horde of Slivers that will get messily out of control if you blink, possibly with a combo-kill engine of its own. (Never, ever trust a Sliver Overlord.) Cromat says, “I’m just not that committed to overpowering y’all, you can trust me,” with an aw-shucks accent that reminds you he’s just a good ole boy, not a threat certainly.

But in this particular case, what you’re trying to accomplish doesn’t intersect with Cromat at all and does intersect with another five-color commander that is on the list of options. Planeswalkers need defending, after all, so a commander that can defend against creature attacks would be a good one to have. Child of Alara’s not it; planeswalkers are taken down too, after all, though Child of Alara is a typical commander for a controlling deck that is as highly focused as your deck is at keeping the board relatively creature-free. Allow me to show you my suggestion for whom should be your new lady-friend.

From ‘first blush,’ it might appear you’re one of The Bad Guys. After all, that is a Sliver commander, and nothing fun or fair ever comes of those, right? But we’ve been so abused by the high-power new toys that we forget The Queen is actually pretty fair; Sliver Legion pumps power to a massive scale and overruns a board out of nowhere (or at least it’d be ‘out of nowhere’ if the blow wasn’t telegraphed from the first moment), while Sliver Overlord very clearly assembles some mana combination of doom that combo-kills the table with surprisingly little in the way of starting resources. Sliver Queen, what’s she do? Make tokens?

Planeswalkers need defending, and making blockers—even if they’re chump blockers—is right in line with what you’re trying to do. It helps that with ten dual lands, a Moat, a Mana Drain, and, and, and… I can in good conscience make whatever alterations come to mind and not worry the price point. $30 commander? Why not! Some deck alterations I’ve made have totaled $30 or less for the entire deck redesign, but in this case it’s clear that the design of the deck cares more about being correct for what you’re trying to accomplish than any particular price tag.

Cutting the deck up into sections, I’ll start with the mana base, which is pretty darn ideal; after all, fetchlands plus dual lands let you adjust your mana however you need it without a worry. You can figure out what you need and then get it pretty easily. However, it actually isn’t biased at all—you’re pretty equally capable of making RRR as you are of making GGG, despite the fact that you have very few red spells at all (and will have fewer still by the time I’m done with you!) and actually do have spells that cost triple-green in your deck. There is in fact so little red that it bears cutting into some of your red lands, and there is a strong bias towards white and green as your primary colors with black and blue as your secondary colors.

Your mana ramping so far is Forest-centric, while your fixing overall is fetchland based. With this in mind, it’s not like we’re going to cut any Revised dual lands out of your deck, but there is reason, actually, to cut into your Ravnica dual lands. You use so little red that Blood Crypt, Sacred Foundry, Steam Vents and Stomping Ground are just really expensive basic lands that sometimes deal you two damage, and other lands would serve well in their place.

In fact, looking for room in your mana base I found a fifth Ravnica dual land that stood out to me for cutting, that being Watery Grave. Your needs don’t suggest a second Underground Sea will come up often as a requirement, and the actual needs of the deck spoke to me and said that the need for green and white mana was the first prerequisite here, so a little more biasing to fix those at the expense of these pretty things you don’t actually need might help the deck out.

In fact, you need red mana so little that I’d actually just cut the basic Mountain. That is how strongly I feel against the four red Ravnica duals and how useless I see additional red sources beyond the Revised duals plus fetchland suite. And in rebuilding the deck to suit its design and its tempo further, the need for that many basic lands was reduced, so there are two more empty slots as well: basic Forests #2 and #3. This gave me eight slots to fill back in for you to help the deck’s mana be biased in the correct direction. One I intended to leave blank—even with a Maze of Ith sitting in the 40th land slot, 39 was too many with all the mana artifacts and acceleration spells you have to work with, and ‘just’ 38 lands will still be a whole lot of mana to work with.

Filling in the seven remaining slots, two are going to get me yelled at; I do, after all, have a continuing love affair with Winding Canyons as a strategic tool for maximizing your freedom to act outside of your own main phase, and in a deck with the color requirements to support it, Alchemist’s Refuge should come as no surprise as my favorite new thing in the world. Your deck is so constrained to sorcery speed Magic—there isn’t even one instant speed pinpoint removal spell to lean on to defend a planeswalker —that anything which might allow you to break this time restriction is going to have a major impact on your ability to defend your planeswalkers.

Winding Canyons lets you play a creature that might have a sweeper effect at instant speed, while Alchemist’s Refuge may let you play a Wrath effect midcombat or even let you save planeswalkers until end of turn to dodge attacks, letting you untap, Wrath, and then start using your planeswalker abilities. Breaking the flow of the time stream is good and should be done when possible.

The other five fixes are more straightforward. Bloodstained Mire gets added because upon first inspection I noted there were nine, not ten, fetchlands to operate off of—sure, R/B is not exactly a primary color combination for you, but it still gets Bayou, Plateau, or whatever else you actually need just fine. Sungrass Prairie gets added due to the fact that so many of your spells favor early access to green and regular access to white that a land that helps you get either (or both) with no setup is going to help you out, and this works just a little bit more easily than Razorverge Thicket or Sunpetal Grove does.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth gets added not just to help with black mana but also as a fun fixer that combines with another card added to the deck; no, not Cabal Coffers, believe it or not. This deck isn’t as fixated on getting a lot of mana to work with, it mostly wants to get enough mana fast then sweep the board a few times and keep cranking those planeswalker benefits for the free card value their abilities can lend over time and accumulate that advantage you’re reaching for.

The last two additions come from the fact that you’re so strongly biased towards wanting green and white mana but don’t necessarily want to stop there. Seaside Citadel assists with green and white mana while also respecting the fact that blue is also a major need, while Murmuring Bosk does exactly the same for black. That one even has a basic land type, for the purposes of finding it with Three Visits or a fetchland, and so it will turn up more often than average (and is probably a better Forest for you to find than the now-conspicuously-absent Stomping Ground).

Moving on to the artifacts, we have zero cuts and three additions; additions we’re going to need to pay for at a later point in time. Spoiler alert, we’re going to dig into the spells section to make room for any artifacts and/or creatures we need to add. It has room to give if you want it.

The three additions from this section are pretty straightforward and fit what you’re trying to accomplish very directly more than anything else. So far you have some mana artifacts, Sensei’s Divining Top, and the awesome Rings of Brighthearth that works so well with both planeswalkers and fetchlands. Considering that one of the focuses we’re going to work on building up in the deck is its mana curve to have something to accelerate with on turn 2 in order to assist with playing a four- or five-mana planeswalker more quickly than average, that Rings of Brighthearth also fits this role by allowing for double fetching turn 3 is not to be underestimated.

Addition number one takes advantage of the fact that in the original Magic set there was no such thing as ‘planeswalkers,’ so by listing every non-land permanent type for destruction it accidentally misses a spot: the sweet spot you want to inhabit. Nevinyrral’s Disk is another sweeper candidate that can eliminate any problem threat your opponent might have going at instant speed while leaving the side of the board you actually care about unscathed. Just like Pernicious Deed this is more an accident than anything else, but it can be capitalized on and thus deserves inclusion, while its near cousin Oblivion Stone did not make the obvious short-list the first time around.

Crucible of Worlds is added more for its card advantage potential than anything else; sure, it can defend against land destruction effects, but ultimately its role is let you use any of your eleven fetchlands every turn, putting lands into play turn after turn whether you’ve drawn one or not. While your focus shouldn’t be on doubling your mana supply as heartily as possible, Crucible can help you get from three mana to the four or five needed to cast a planeswalker out of your starting hand and helps to get into the lots-of-mana range, where you’ll be able to play multiple cards a turn including multiple planeswalkers and a sweeper each turn so long as the cards keep flowing.

The last addition is not exactly a sweeper, though it can pretend to be one sometimes or does at least enough of a job at it that it’s not just an incidental effect even though it is included in the deck for the other side of its abilities. Contagion Engine allows you to go proliferate-crazy with your planeswalkers, getting ultimates out of them more often or more frequently than you’re supposed to and thus getting more out of your investment which you are clearly already committed to. Proliferate will be a small subtheme of the deck based on the sheer power of that mechanic alongside your planeswalkers, and in this case can quickly get out of hand alongside a board of just two or three of them.

Moving on to the spells, we have a lot of replacements and a good number of cuts. Eight slots are going to move over to other sections. We still have two artifacts that need cuts made in order to find room, and seven creatures is not very many creatures at all, especially when they’re pretty vulnerable to dying in a stiff breeze and leaving your planeswalkers undefended.

On The Cutting-Room Floor:

Jokulhaups and Obliterate — Yes, these do leave just planeswalkers as the only class of permanents in play, but that’s not actually worth the burn that comes with having completely ceased the game of Commander without having the good grace to at least win immediately. No one likes not being able to play, and these two excel at that…while sometimes losing you the game instead, since an opponent with a fast comeback into the game may just need to put an attacker or two into play in order to undo all that hard work. Better to focus on the actual sweeper plan; it’ll be more consistent and also not burn your long-term playability of the deck by playing one of these too frequently.

Wrath of God and Damnation — There are spiffier, more special Wrath effects at comparable prices, and you should be leaning on them for their extra benefits instead of just playing these for their mana efficiency. Damnation would probably be better off as Day of Judgment in any case just for color-balance purposes, so clearly the no-regeneration clause is not that important and paying a little bit more for more serious upsides will be for the best overall.

Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Explosive Vegetation, Skyshroud Claim — For these I asked, “What is this deck trying to do?” and came up with the realistic answer of: accelerate into a planeswalker or two and then spend the next few turns clearing up the creatures in play, letting the planeswalkers run away and build up an advantage then maybe locking down what is in play still with an enchantment or some similar effect. These just get in the way a little, then, and might be better as more two-mana accelerants. The higher reaches of mana that can be attained by Veggies and Claim aren’t really necessary, since the deck already has a relatively low cost curve for Commander and has several ways to access more mana over the course of the game.

Moat, HumilityHumility hits that unpleasant space where no one gets to play their deck, and worse yet can completely disadvantage you against a token strategy. When midgets were already the plan, hobbling the giants is what the Lilliputians already planned to do and here you are helping them out. Planeswalkers versus swarms are already running against problems, and this just makes people cranky while not helping enough of the time that it can just be a liability. Moat is great unless we’re talking about fliers, which often enough we are. And another solid chunk of the time it’ll do its thing then die and all your planeswalkers go with it, so something that actually removes threats from play would be preferred.

Clockspinning — Cute but not effective. This costs too much mana to really be effective, while proliferation is cheap and easy.

Exploration — Solid but not amazing; considering the curve of the deck and what you’re trying to accomplish I’d actually lean towards the single-use effect and draw the card off of Explore while we’re at it. It’s literally a blank card for you outside of your opening hand, after all, while Explore would have just as much an impact at the start of the game.

Mana Reflection — The doubling of Mirari’s Wake was efficient but pushing the boundaries; Mana Reflection just costs too much for what you get out of it, since doubling your mana won’t actually let you run away with too many games. This is not a deck that really cares to make a lot of mana and go from there, so a lot of the cards that focused on doing just that get repurposed elsewhere.

Counterspell, Pact of Negation — I’m not convinced either of these are really necessary, or even helping. You’re going to be playing tap-out control, and while Pact helps with that it’s more of a technical helping than anything else. Yes, you can use it while tapped out, but it costs you most of your next turn to do so and thus needs to be dealing with a really serious problem rather than just being a casual-use counterspell. I don’t think you really need that many counters here, and both Drain and Denial are miles better for you.

Evacuation — Delaying tactic at best. Sure, it can be played as an instant, but does it solve any problems? Commander is not really a tempo format for control decks.

Entreat the Angels — I’m not convinced even when you miracle this that it’s the best creature card for you to be relying upon. It makes a bunch of Angels, but if that was Plan A, wouldn’t Luminarch Ascension have made your short-list of cards to play with? It looks to me this is included because it is fancy and new and because when you miracle it the card is very mana efficient, brutally producing power for almost no mana at all. Staying focused is more important than having the occasional miracle pop up.

Cruel Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor — I don’t see a great need to skip draw phases to Tutor, especially since it won’t really matter what defensive mechanism you’re searching up or which planeswalker you keep in play. Keeping any planeswalker in play will accrue advantages you can run away with from there, while the most important part about playing the ‘answers’ game is being able to do it not just consistently but also repetitively. Skipping draw phases to do it means you’re down cards when you need to have a response, or worse yet you need to draw one and merely draw a Tutor instead.

Cruel Tutor has the grosser sin of just costing too damn much while we’re at it; three mana at sorcery speed is a real pain of a restriction just to put a card on top of your deck. For one more black you can access it immediately and not lose a draw step to do so. Not that I think you need more tutors, as Diabolic Tutor will not be making the cut here, so really I’m just going to shave all but Demonic Tutor and call it a day.

Adding back in, two empty slots were left over from our artifact section, and I have had to sketch out the deck in whole to know how many slots deserve to be repurposed for creature spells. Six such slots transfer over, and even at that, the thirteen creatures you have still feels darn light for winning a game with. As you’ve noted, however, planeswalker ultimates do that pretty effectively as well, especially if you’re setting it up to not lose the ‘walker when you do it or proliferate to do it far more often than you’d think you should be able to.

This still gives us a total of thirteen slots to fill back in; I’ll be adding one more planeswalker then twelve support spells to help play the game you’re aiming to play.

All Aboard:

Chandra, the Firebrand — Doubling spells is only a little effective for you, since most of the kinds of cards you’ll be able to double will be sweeper effects that are not more effective twice than they would be just the once. A pinger planeswalker that starts casting targeted Infernos is still a good investment and worth adding to your lineup; Chandra can handle minor threats as part of your overlapping planeswalker self-defenses, and every great once in a while will get to copy Demonic Tutor or something else fancy even though these sorts of cards are in the minority for you. Double that effect with Rings of Brighthearth, however, and suddenly we’re talking triple DTs. It won’t happen often, but those games will be memorable.

Tezzeret’s Gambit — Another one of those ‘fancy’ spells worth doubling that I was thinking of specifically when looking at Chandra. Proliferate as a bonus theme is worth at least as much as a card to you a good portion of the time; sometimes maybe even more than a card if you’re ramping up two or three or even more planeswalkers for a swift ultimate. The bit of card advantage doesn’t hurt either.

Inexorable Tide — More proliferate, in this case letting you get extra value every time you cast a spell and really ramp up to ultimates at a shocking speed.

Meishin, the Mind Cage — My replacement for Humility in that (unlike Humility) this counteracts even swarms of creatures instead of relying on 1/1 parity. Meishin makes it very difficult for any creature to profitably attack your planeswalkers but doesn’t neuter comes into play abilities or bonus tricks, letting the creatures you do play still do their jobs.

The Abyss — If I didn’t see well over a thousand dollars invested in your deck already, and access to ancient staples, I wouldn’t be suggesting this Legends goodie. But since you seem to have the access and the resources, it’s entirely possible you already have an Abyss floating around somewhere or won’t have to look too hard to find one and obtain it, so I can suggest it with good conscience. Unlike Moat, which can disappear and undo all of the work it was performing by exposing all of a sudden the team of planeswalkers to unanticipated vulnerability, the Abyss erodes the creatures that are in play so that just taking out the enchantment won’t necessarily undo its work. (It’s also quite solid with your commander, as a side benefit of the upgrade from Cromat.)

Decree of Pain — Mass sweepers plus mass card draw equal massively awesome. Decree of Pain is probably the best Wrath effect there is in the format, and it is an excellent addition to your deck. While the four mana for Damnation was a bit of a strain on the double black, leaving you really unlikely to play it in the early game without leaving your mana access distorted from what would have been ideal, at eight mana you won’t notice any particular need to step outside of your comfortable mana development to use it. Also: it’s just bonkers.

Akroma’s Vengeance — If Nevinyrral’s Disk was worth adding, the sorcery speed version is just as worthy of the slot, and Akroma’s Vengeance solves all problems with a sledgehammer. Clearing every possible problem permanent all at once is a good way to get into the position you’re trying to habituate, and this does that even more effectively than Austere Command does, especially as you rely so little on enchantments or artifacts that selectively sparing a permanent type won’t really be a big deal.

Rout and Hallowed Burial — Both are better than the traditional four-mana Wraths; one has the advantage of being able to tuck commanders and avoid problems like indestructible, persist, undying, and access to reanimation effects, while the other can be played as an instant. Both of these are significant improvements that let you use them as tactical countermeasures more effectively and are worth the additional mana’s worth of investment over the baseline Wrath effects you’d been playing.

Fracturing Gust — The more I thought about how little you rely upon artifacts and enchantments, the more I wanted a card that could selectively punish those who rely heavily on exactly those sorts of card types. The next best Wrath effects that also answered those got rid of planeswalkers too, and thus were clearly counterproductive. But an instant speed sweeper effect that hits only them does exist and is even easy to cast given your heavy focus on green and white mana already. Not everyone over-relies on creatures, after all, so another sweeper effect for those oddballs with all the goofy enchantments in play will help for those games where you’re running into difficulty trying to interact due to the fact that you’re strongly biased by the nature of planeswalkers to playing ‘the creature game.’

Constant Mists — But hey, if you’re going to play the creature game, why not play it really, really well? As a late game card, Constant Mists can lock down the board as far as being able to remove your planeswalkers via the attack phase, to which they are generally softest unless the opponent has a grip full of Vindicate effects. It can even be used tactically to save opponents from attack, though in this deck I suspect it will save your planeswalkers a lot more frequently than any other use.

Explore — It’s the little things that matter, and finding another two-mana accelerant will help get you to the four-mana mark on turn 3 to play you first planeswalker and start to pull ahead. Explore replaces Exploration, giving you what will very probably be the same jump and giving you a card in your hand as well while you’re at it and not being a dead draw later in the game.

And for that last slot, I said… Why not have a little fun, and do something a little quirky? You’re going to occasionally run into those games where something goes very wrong and you’re shut out from playing the way you want to be, or you’re facing an insurmountable board disadvantage that you can’t just crawl your way out of. After all, an opposing Avacyn, Angel of Hope is a pretty rough issue for you, and weird corner-cases you could not plan for will come up.

Once in a while you’ll just need to kill your opponent out of nowhere, and there is a card that may just do exactly that. Remember that Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth we don’t really seem to be using yet? And remember how Chandra can potentially use help, since she doesn’t look like she’ll be doubling very many spells these days?

Last Stand — Sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll play a long game from behind, unable to get your planeswalkers running and thus face-plant into the problem where you’re light on ways to kill a player but have twenty lands in play. Twenty lands is twenty Swamps with Urborg, and that’s “You’re dead,” with Last Stand—while having lesser uses at other times and just being powerful overall with your Domain mana base. You’ll kill a creature, make some tokens, gain some life, filter a few cards through your hand…and occasionally just outright kill someone that didn’t expect it. I think one ‘unpleasant surprise’ is in order for pretty much any deck, and I suspect your opponents will be much happier that it’s this goofy card than Obliterate again.

Moving on to the last section of the deck, we have six open slots for creature spells and need to have a good hard look at each one you’re already playing to see what it’s doing. I only want to keep three of your seven initial lineup, and most of them are getting cut for being small and/or ineffective; we want a few things that can play actual defense or otherwise supplement the capabilities of your spell base by emulating what you’ve already got.


Palinchron — All this does in your deck is achieve infinite mana. That’s not actually very interesting or really something you’re going to capitalize on; it’s not like infinite mana unlocking gives you the good grace of ending the game immediately, after all. It just lets you deploy things faster. Why achieve it at all if there isn’t really anything you can do with it? Cromat could have infinite power and flying but no trample, while Sliver Queen can make infinite power and toughness with an infinite swarm of baby Slivers. Neither of these are compelling and worth reaching for, and the mana-doubling cards you’ve been comboing these with were largely cut for not being part of Plan A, so this likewise gets removed for being off-plan.

Magus of the Moat, Peacekeeper — Small and fragile things behind which you are hoping to protect your planeswalkers. I’ll put it this way: there is no way Jace, Nicol Bolas, and Sorin would be caught dead hiding behind something that can be Zapped. The likelihood of these failing at their appointed duties at a calamitous time is very large, and thus they should not be relied upon at all, not even as an overlapping defense mechanism. They’re the weak links, after all.

Aven Mindcensor — If this is something you want to do, Stranglehold instead and take control of the extra turns conundrum while you’re at it. As it is, this is another very fragile body and shouldn’t be committed to, and I am doubtful this is even an ability you want to add to your deck.


Gilder Bairn — Sure, it’s ‘cute.‘ Doubling up a planeswalker for an immediate ultimate is something that will make this a lightning rod, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing —just that it’s dangerous. Anything that can approximate additional copies of Doubling Season is worth trying out, and this does just that.

Viral Drake — Proliferate as a subtheme was useful to add, and Viral Drake here lets you go further off the normal growth curve for planeswalkers by cranking loyalty really aggressively. There may occasionally be an accidental poison kill after attacking someone once, but that’s their fault for dying before you spend another thirty mana to kill them.

Sakura-Tribe Elder — Another two-drop accelerant; this one doesn’t get dual lands, but it does sometimes defend a planeswalker later in the game, which is not to be hated.

With the small ‘support’ roles filled in, it’s time to work on things that will actually have  a serious impact on the board and advance your game plan; things that are hugely impactful and strive forward purposefully towards your chosen end game.

Oona, Queen of the Fae — Worth including for her ability to do a good impression of your commander, Oona makes blockers to defend planeswalkers with. It’s as simple as that. That this can also by itself count as a victory condition, be it by milling or just making an army of flying attackers, means Oona is multi-talented for closing out a game, but both of these are just side benefits of your defensive posture. Also note: without access to infinite mana, you’re no longer a jerk for playing her!

Avenger of Zendikar — Much like Oona, this makes a pile of things to block planeswalkers with, and also can accidentally kinda (sort of) kill out of almost nowhere, thanks to the fact that an Avenger plus a few fetchlands is an impressive army in a box. One of the swingiest finisher cards there is, here its working double duty as an impressive blocking machine as well instead of just focusing on being a kill card.

Kagemaro, First to Suffer — A Wrath-like effect that can protect your planeswalkers that can be deployed at instant speed once the creature itself has been cast (or you have my favorite toy, Winding Canyons, online). It’s “just” another Wrath effect, but that’s your plan of action so I don’t see a reason not to happily commit to it further by adding this body to the roster.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite — Not necessarily a sweeper, but an excellent defensive tool that will ensure your side of the table comes out ahead in a fight and your planeswalkers are easier to protect. Elesh Norn is so good at this job even without token-makers on your side of the board, but it just so happens we’ve added a few and your commander does that job adequately as well…

Etched Monstrosity — A little bit of ‘fun’ to go with the five-color theme, Etched Monstrosity is an absurd value for its price and can get you a new grip of cards to work with while increasing to huge size. Add Venser or Rings of Brighthearth for fun, add Doubling Season to be extra bonus sad unless you also have Mirari’s Wake in play; these are the risks we take… Jace and Tezzeret also interact with it interestingly, giving it even more play than it looks like at first glance.

Bringer of the Blue Dawn — Another “I can because I’m all five colors” addition, this one helps you run away with a game by just drawing a whole bunch of cards each turn, which is clearly the most useful of the five Bringers for you even more so than using Vampiric Tutor every turn to draw ‘the right card.’ More cards to work with in general is just going to go over the top of ‘tutor for the right card,’ after all, since there is so much overlap between the cards you use already that drawing three a turn will almost certainly be as useful as drawing the right one.

Novablast Wurm — If we’re going to add board-controlling attackers, we have to mention this one, infrequently played as it seems to be. Green and white decks are not exactly well known for being control-oriented, after all, and tend to be the kinds of decks that want to keep their stuff. Here, you have a control shell and a compelling reason to lock other creatures off the board, and Novablast Wurm does that exceptionally well.

Putting it all together, we get the following deck:

Sliver Queen
Sean McKeown
Test deck on 06-03-2012
Magic Card Back

As always, for participating in this week’s Dear Azami you’ll be receiving a $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com—it’s a small drop in the bucket towards that copy of The Abyss, but hopefully you have one of those lying around already (you have dual lands, Moat, Mana Drain and Mana Crypt already so it’s possible, after all…), so this can go to the corner-case stuff you have reason not to have just lying around from Legacy, Vintage, or other Commander decks. After all, I’d be hard-pressed to say I have a fair chunk of these in my Commander deckbuilding box, and a Sliver Queen is one of those cards you kind of have to have a reason for owning. Here’s an itemized list of the additions made for your consideration:

With that put together, it’s time to say goodbye. Tune in next week—Cassidy McAuliffe has been officially welcomed aboard Dear Azami as my co-columnist by our illustrious editor, and it’s an entirely equal partnership from here on out. I won’t even be seeing the articles til they’re published, so we’ll all get to see what surprises are in store as Cassidy tackles your submissions and his own ideas going forward from here. I for one took a stand on Ad Nauseam and Griselbrand in Commander recently, and since we come from very different positions on what, why, and how hard in this format from each other, I am waiting to see what comes next with a certain anticipation.

Sean McKeown

Want to submit a deck for consideration to Dear Azami? We’re always accepting deck submission to consider for use in a future article, like Nick’s Numot, the Devastator deck or Zander’s Halfdane deck. Only one deck submission will be chosen per article, but being selected for the next edition of Dear Azami includes not just deck advice but also a $20 coupon to the StarCityGames.com store!

Email Sean a deck submission using this link here!

Like what you’ve seen? Feel free to explore more of “Dear Azami” here, in the Article Archives! And feel free to follow Sean on Facebook… sometimes there are extra surprises and bonus content to be found over on his Facebook Fan Page, as well as previews of the next week’s column at the end of the week!